The head of the Directorate of Protection and Security Institution (DPSI – Dirección de Protección y Seguridad Institucional) of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), Juan de la Cruz Brenes, denies the state institution listens in on telephone calls illegally.

The DPSI was this week at the centre of a controversy, after last Thursday a former DPSI official told a Special Legislative Committee that the DPSI is a “police body” and in 2009 monitored the calls of Frente Amplio legislator Jorge Arguedas Mora, who at the time  worked at ICE and part of the institution’s workers union.

The head of the DPSI said the statements by Mejia Serrano are not true, that the work of the agency is to ensure the security of ICE buildings and property, for example, to prevent the theft of cable and other assets.

Cruz explained that the DPSI intervenes telephone calls (wiretaps) only by an order of a judge, to “facilitate judicial investigations”.

The official declined to reveal how many court interventions it made in the last year,

Cruz flat out denied any illegal wiretapping, saying there are controls in place to prevent it. Regarding the alleged wiretap on the legislator’s calls, Cruz insisted it never happened. Cruz explained there was an administrative investigation against Arguedas when he worked at ICE for not showing up for work, which can all be corroborated by logs of his arrival and departures, but not through wiretaps.

THe DPSI has a staff of 315 people, of which six are devoted to legal judicial wiretaps, said Cruz.

The official added that the DPSI officials are armed,  empowered under the Fire Arms Act ( Ley de Armas), but denies it is a “police force”.

According to Frente Amplio legislator, Francisco Camacho, he will on Monday send a letter to the President of ICE, Carlos Obregon, requesting security for Mejia Serrano, who now works in a different department at ICE, after requesting a transfer out of the DPSI 18 months ago. The request is for fear of reprisals against her.

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